Neighbourhood First Policy: PM Modi to hold e-Summit with Sri Lanka

Published: September 21, 2020

On September 26, 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold his first virtual Summit with the Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. The meeting is expected to be held on the side lines of United Nations general assembly. Apart from Sri Lanka India is expected to hold several other meets with its neighbourhood in the near future.

Highlights

India will also hold several other virtual summits with its neighbourhood countries such as Bangladesh, Myanmar and Afghanistan to boost its neighbourhood first policy of the country. The external affairs minister S Jaishankar is expected to hold a meeting with Bangladesh counterpart. The leaders are expected to frame a roadmap for two years to take the relationship between the countries to the next level. The export of onions from India to Bangladesh has become one of the major irritants between the countries. The India-Myanmar foreign office consultations are to be resumed that was postponed due to Chinese crisis. Also, India has reached out to the Afghan government and a series of high-level visits from the country is to be expected in the coming days.

On September 20, 2020, Maldives, a maritime neighborhood of India received 250 million USD to overcome its economic situation due to covid-19. The Maldives government shall use the funds for whatever important condition without being dictated by India.

Significance

With growing assertiveness of China in the Indian Ocean region it is important for India to establish strong relations with its Maritime neighbourhood, especially Sri Lanka.

Way forward

In the Western Indian ocean India must expand its policy towards islands such as Reunion, Madagascar and Diego Garcia. These islands are neither included under Maritime neighbours of India nor under the neighbourhood first policy. However, they play a significant role in Maritime security of India.  The reunion Island is a part of France and the Garcia Islands post a major American military facility. In the Eastern Indian ocean India should focus on Cocos and Keeling Islands that belongs to Australia

Under SAGAR vision, India has signalled its readiness in promoting regional security and prosperity. India has also opened its Gates for collaboration with countries such as United States France Australia and Japan especially in the Indian Ocean region to counter Chinese influence. On these terms India should thus formulate neighbourhood first policy 2.0.

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